Newport, Rhode Island is synonymous with history, luxury and sport.
It is home to the first U.S. Tennis Championship, the first international polo match and has been a central part of the America’s Cup. Nothing is more luxurious than the sprawling mansions — referred to as “cottages’ by their initial owners — that line select streets.
The inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours Motor Week, held October 3-6, continued this theme. Jay Leno served as Chairman and SCM’s own Donald Osborne was the Concours d’Elegance Chairman.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s historic grounds served as the home for the Concours Village and the stunning oceanfront “cottages” of Doris Duke’s Rough Point, that was completed in 1892 and the 70-room Italian Renaissance Vanderbilt estate, The Breakers, were Concours venues. John Legend performed in concert and a chilly early morning tour included Cars and Coffee at historic Fort Adams State Park followed by the tour cars being displayed on the streets of Newport.
A series of five seminars were also part of the event.
The Audrain Automotive Museum, located in a century old Beaux-Arts building on Bellevue Avenue, featured “Styling the Future, a History of GM Design and Concept Cars.” Twelve of General Motors most dramatic and historic one-off concept cars were on display including the famed Y-Job, 1958 Firebird, 1951 Le Sabre and the 1961 Mako Shark 1.
In addition, two past chief designers for the Cadillac Studio and two past and the current vice-presidents for GM Global Design were present.
The 1906 Locomobile “Old 16” that George Robertson drove to victory in the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup was displayed, along with an extensive collection of related memorabilia.
The Concours took place on the spacious oceanfront grounds of The Breakers. The majority of the cars were divided into classes relating to Sport or Elegance. However, there was a class for 30 Under 30, which was for people under 30 who had spent less than $30,000 on their cars. This was a very creative way to involve younger enthusiasts. Carter Kramer’s 1976 BMW 2002 was selected as the class winner.
The judging was based on a unique modified “French” style, with emphasis on the history and character of the car. This resulted in some rather interesting stories from the entrants. One, an excellent craftsman, mentioned he did most all the work on his car in the evenings and weekends. His wife at the time stated, “When you are done with this car, we are going to spend more time together.” He, after some reflection, bought another project car.
The Excellence in Design award was selected by Michael Simcoe, VP of Global Design for GM and was presented to a 1964 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso.
The People’s Choice, selected by 2,000 voters, was given to a very original 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing.
The Most Elegant Award, selected by Pebble Beach Concours chairman Sandra Button, was awarded to Judge Joseph and Margie Cassini’s 1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S. Movie star Rudolph Valentino, commissioned the car, but he passed away before it was completed. The car was also awarded the Best in Show.
Concours Chairman Donald Osborne said, “When we began to work on this event, we had a clear idea of how we wanted to bring the best of this extraordinary city to our visitors and participants. The reality far exceeded our expectations and we couldn’t be more grateful. Newport proved to be the perfect expression of our theme of ‘History, Luxury and Sport.’”
The inaugural Audrain Motor Week was in a word, spectacular and next year’s event, which is highly anticipated, will take place on October 1-4, 2020.
October 19-20: Atlanta Concours d’Elegance, www.atlantaconcours.org
October 25-28: Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, www.lasvegasconcours.com
October 24 through November 3: 18th Annual Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival and Concours d’Elegance, www.hhiconcours.com